Dead and Dying, Chapter One

I’ve been extraordinarily busy lately with things like t-ball, parties, and interviews for a promotion at work (so much for that “problem with authority”) and haven’t had the time or the energy to really post much on here.

Today is no different.

So, to have something on here to appease my guilty conscience, I’m posting the first chapter of my most recent manuscript submission, Dead and Dying. For those of you curious as to what my writing looks like, here you go. It’s not a very long chapter, but it does set the mood.

Dead and Dying

Chapter One

The vampire moved in on a Thursday. At least, Paul thought it was Thursday, though he supposed it could have been a few days prior. He knew the house behind his had been abandoned on Monday when he had wandered the dust-choked rooms in search of a lost hammer. He had not found the missing tool, or any members of the undead.

No, Thursday seemed the most likely day. It was on that morning, just before daybreak, that he first saw the eyes.

He rose from sleep for what seemed like the hundredth time that night at around five o’clock. Even without his cancerous prostate, he still suffered from what the advertising industry called “frequent urges.” After relieving himself in a weak dribble, he elected to stay up and allow June a few hours of sleep without his constant comings and goings. He made coffee and, taking his cup to the screened back porch, sat down to watch the onset of a new day.

Paul Phelps looked forward to dawn each day and rarely missed one. Despite the cancer spreading through his body, he considered each new day a sign of hope, of renewal. Each time he saw the sun rise over the woods to the east, he counted one more victory against the disease that he knew would win its war with him.

He sat on the porch in his favorite wicker chair, thinking of nothing in particular, staring off toward the shabby house nearly thirty yards from his own back door. He was not looking at the house—it had been abandoned for years and now stood as unwanted and cast off as a cocoon after the butterfly has emerged. Shutters hung at odd angles to the broken windows they adorned, paint peeled in leprous patches from the aluminum siding, and the overhang above the back door leaned away from the house as though ashamed to be associated with it. Still, Paul had seen the house for years and took no notice of it except when he encountered a passing fancy to fix it up and rent it out or tear it down to expand his garden. He had purchased the property two years before, right before a trip to the doctor had changed his life and put all his dreams for it on hold.

Looking through the steam rising from his decaf, his eyes focused on far away things, he stared at the two points of red light for some time before realizing they were there, shining out from a shattered window pane. He lowered the cup, thinking the steam might be playing tricks on his eyes. The red lights had remained and, he thought, had moved slightly.

An animal, he thought, recognizing finally the glare of light off retina. Raccoon. Opossum, maybe. Or a cat. Lord knows how many damn cats are around here. He leaned back into the wicker, surprised that he had concerned himself enough to lean forward, but the eyes gave him a feeling of unease that he could not ascribe to a four-legged pest. He sipped his coffee, trying to look in other directions—at the brightening sky, at the cheerful décor on the porch, at his own gnarled hands—but found himself drawn to the two red lights in the window of the abandoned house. He stared for some time, leaning forward again, trying to peer through the darkness.

After several minutes, Paul prepared to give up and return inside to start breakfast when lights from a car approaching from the road across from his house shone through the window. The red lights disappeared at once, replaced by a ghostly white visage. He could tell little detail in the momentary glare before the face was lost again to the dark, though he thought the figure was male with high cheekbones and shadowed, deep set eyes. The car turned, directing its headlights elsewhere and when Paul’s eyes adjusted, he no longer saw anyone at the window or even the red points of light.

His thoughts went first to a squatter. Some transient passing through with nowhere else to go. That led him to thoughts of criminal behavior and as he stood to go back inside his house, he wondered if the man hiding a few feet from where he and his wife slept was some fugitive, hoping to avoid detection. He returned to the kitchen, careful to lock the door behind him, and picked up the phone to call the police, held the receiver in his hand for a while, then decided to put it back down. As a dying man, Paul tended toward optimism when he could afford it. The man is probably a harmless transient, he thought. I’ll let him be.

“If he isn’t out by Saturday,” he said to himself, removing the bacon and a carton of eggs from the refrigerator, “I’ll go over and run him off.”

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